ISLAMABAD -  Joint Co-ordination Committee (JCC) has agreed, in principle, to include Keti Bunder Sea Port Development project as well as Naukuridi-Mashkhel-Panjgur Road project (which would be linked with M-8 and N-85) in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor portfolio.

Sources said that according to the minutes of December 29, 2016 JCC meeting, Pakistan and China have decided to include new projects in the CPEC portfolio and instructions have been issued to the Joint Working Group (JWG) on transport to work out proposals on the implementation of these projects after further studies and consultations, a private TV channel reported.

The JCC meeting co-chaired by Wang Xiaotao, Vice Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) China and Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Ahsan Iqbal welcomed the progress on consultations between the transport authorities of the two countries reflected in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Highway Engineering Co-operation.

On the agenda of disaster prevention and mitigation and emergency response, the two sides agreed in principle to include the Early Warning System Strengthening and Enhancement Project in the CPEC; and JCC reportedly noted that bilateral co-operation in this area will respond to the challenges of climate change and safeguard infrastructure developed under the CPEC.

The meeting also noted that CPEC presents a unique opportunity to integrate with regional economies and become a hub for trade and manufacturing with the Gwadar Port developed as an international free port.  The way forward for matured projects - Karakoram Highway from Thakot to Raikot N-35 remaining portion (136 Km), Khuzdar to Basima Road N-30 (110km) and upgradation of Dera Ismail Khan to Zhob, N-50 Phase-I (210 km) - was discussed.

The JCC, sources further said, urged the Pakistani side pay close attention to proper maintenance of KKH Phase-I so as to ensure safe and smooth transport along CPEC.  The JCC noted the completion of Gwadar-Sorab 650 KM section to operationalize western route, speedy progress on DI Khan-Hakla (285 Km) section by Pakistani side as well as successful shipment of Chinese cargo from Gwadar Port through western route.

Pakistan and China also agreed during the meeting to initiate preparatory work including joint technical and commercial feasibility study for expansion of existing multi-purpose terminal including breakwater and capital dredging of Gwadar Port and East Bay Expressway-II.

The JCC agreed, in principle, to the proposal of Pakistani side for inclusion of rail-based mass transit systems in provincial headquarters as a component of CPEC.

The JCC instructed the transport JWG to, on the basis of further studies and consultations, work out proposals on the implementation of Karachi Circular Railway, greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit System and Quetta Mass Transit System.

The signing of preliminary agreement on Quetta Mass Transit System was welcomed by the JCC as well as preliminary work including a feasibility study done by the province of Sindh for Karachi Circular Railway project which provides a basis for preparatory work on the project.

The Pakistani side proposed the inclusion of rail-based mass transit projects under CPEC including Lahore Orange Line, Metro Mass Transit Project and agreed to grant exemption from imposition of federal taxes and duties on uniform basis for mass transit projects.